Orange Julius and a Hotdog
December 3, 2014 4:32 PM   Subscribe

1989: America's malls. The places where nothing — and everything — has changed. In 1989, Michael Galinsky, then a 20-year-old student, took a month to traverse the U.S. Everywhere he went, he documented the same place: the shopping mall. The results are now an archive of a vanished world, simultaneously familiar and foreign, trivial and full of meaning.
posted by standardasparagus (163 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
 
Shopping is a feeling.
posted by eschatfische at 4:47 PM on December 3, 2014 [13 favorites]


They knocked down our glum, swiftly emptying local mall in Laurel, Maryland, and the only thing I missed was Orange Julius. Malls were only a good idea in Logan's Run, but once your lifeclock went dark, oy vey.
posted by sonascope at 4:55 PM on December 3, 2014 [12 favorites]


Tape World. Way to future proof your brand. I'm sure they were like, "I can't believe those chumps over by the food court went for Record World"
posted by leotrotsky at 4:55 PM on December 3, 2014 [31 favorites]


Oh, wow. Glimpses of stores long gone around here - B. Dalton's, Merry Go Round, Foxmoor, Paul Harris, Thom McAn.
posted by MissySedai at 4:56 PM on December 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Wow. The first few seemed wholey uninteresting but I kept scanning and something clicked. It really is about the cumulative effect. It seems almost as bygone an age as those Edwardian films from the UK. I'm gripped by weird nostalgia for a time and space I was never physically part of. And a bit giddied by how much this illustrates the speed at which ubiquitous personal digital technology has transformed collective interactions in public spaces. Thanks for posting.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:58 PM on December 3, 2014 [14 favorites]


There is something I find oddly pathetic about the shopping mall. You can look at one and instantly identify the era of its construction; they are of their time in a way that seems unique to the form. There are shopping districts that are hundreds of years old that are still beautiful; there are strip malls that have been renovated into pleasant places to stroll; but an enclosed shopping mall is suited for only its original and primary purpose.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:59 PM on December 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


Those pictures are the most 80s thing ever. I half expected to see my skinny teenage self there. The smoking on the benches looks shocking now--it's easy to forget how public smoking was just the way it was back then.

It would be nice to see the locations, if these were really taken all over the country, which would show just how homogenized shopping malls were pretty much everywhere in the U.S.
posted by zardoz at 4:59 PM on December 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


I half expected to see my skinny teenage self there.

I half expected to see my folks, and what do you know! That's my little brother in one of those groups of kids at Woodfield, mullet and all.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:00 PM on December 3, 2014 [79 favorites]


Freya_lamb, so true - I was ruminating on how often all it takes to make an everyday photograph interesting is to let the years pass. I was absorbed. And zardoz, yes - I expected to see myself, too.
posted by Miko at 5:01 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh, god, the hair...
posted by suelac at 5:02 PM on December 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


Malls are safe spaces for women - and women-dominated spaces. YMMV but I've never experienced, nor seen, harassment in a mall (that's anecdotal, of course! so... grain of salt), and I think that's part of the reason I liked hanging around in them. This is your space.

There's also a mall-walking group at my local mall and I think that's great - esp. if it's raining or hot out.

Re: the photos. Smoking! In malls. Wow. Such a different time.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:02 PM on December 3, 2014 [14 favorites]


Fuck. This is *me*. ( Note: Ashtrays )
posted by mikelieman at 5:02 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Tape World. Way to future proof your brand. I'm sure they were like, "I can't believe those chumps over by the food court went for Record World"

In Toronto, for a long time, there was a computer store called PCI World. We used to joke about the bankruptcy of ISA World.
posted by 256 at 5:02 PM on December 3, 2014 [9 favorites]


Logan's Run, but once your lifeclock went dark, oy vey.

You're thinking of "Lev's Run"

"So I go for my corned beef, and my hand starts with the blinking, and oh my G-d, everything just goes meshugas!"
posted by leotrotsky at 5:03 PM on December 3, 2014 [18 favorites]


In case anyone wondered why those of us who came of age in the 80's so often succumbed to nihilism.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:03 PM on December 3, 2014 [60 favorites]


That picture with the Patrick Swayze poster says it all, really.
posted by mikelieman at 5:06 PM on December 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


One of my favourite things to do in new places is to go to shops. Grocery stores are great, malls are good (or whatever the local equivalent is). I like art galleries and museums fine as well, but there's something I find more interesting in these spaces. A space where people just are, just do their thing.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:06 PM on December 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


Even in 1989, I had no idea how they got their bangs to stick straight up like that. I am so thankful that I didn't learn how to properly be a girl until I was in my late teens, because that means I got through the '80s with my dignity mostly intact. I may have had the same blunt cut bob from the ages of six until I was 16, but by god that means I never succumbed to the horrors of the fan bangs.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:06 PM on December 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


aqua net
posted by poffin boffin at 5:08 PM on December 3, 2014 [14 favorites]


Everyone's so skinny.
posted by octothorpe at 5:08 PM on December 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Even in 1989, I had no idea how they got their bangs to stick straight up like that.

Hairspray. Huge, industrial-sized cans of hairspray. I remember girls in junior high with full cans of hairspray in their purses.
posted by zardoz at 5:11 PM on December 3, 2014 [18 favorites]


That' s the problem with shopping nowadays. Not enough waiting pits.
posted by ckape at 5:17 PM on December 3, 2014 [27 favorites]


*lights cigarette* Malls ...*takes a drag* are born dead.
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 PM on December 3, 2014 [16 favorites]


I was six and in the first/second grade in 1989, and we moved during the summer back to the east coast from two years on the west coast. We left sunny Southern California for the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where the nearest mall was almost an hour away, up in Salisbury.

It had a Boscov's, a movie theater, and most importantly, AN ARCADE. We didn't travel to the mall much, unless it was a special occasion.

My WASPy mother and I used to giggle at the large permed hairdos, which I'm certain my mother felt were tacky beyond belief, and we decided that the hairstyle would henceforth be known as "mallhair." Whenever I use the term now, people of my age cohort and older immediately know what I'm describing and they giggle too.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 5:21 PM on December 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Surely Ridgemont Mall is the defining mall of the 80s?
posted by Room 641-A at 5:23 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love Orange Julius!
posted by Area Man at 5:32 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


It says 1989 but it looks earlier in the decade to me, especially the guy in the crop shirt and some of the hair. Regional differences must play into it as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:33 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


jcifa, I'm the exception that proves the rule. The only time I have been harassed in a way that I was absolutely afraid for my physical safety was in a shopping mall. Maybe that explains why I hate them with such passion.
posted by janey47 at 5:34 PM on December 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


These photos were posted previously, although How To Be A Retronaut (and thus the link) is very dead now. Also this seems to have more information about the photos than I remember from the last time around.
posted by koeselitz at 5:35 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


the hairstyle would henceforth be known as "mallhair."

in the tristate area this is known mostly as jersey hair, which seems awfully limiting as surely long island could take a good portion of the blame as well.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:38 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mall Madness means you can always be at the mall! Even in 1999, Friday night sleepovers were spent practicing for Saturday mall days.
posted by book 'em dano at 5:38 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


well, babbage's in the late 80s was interesting - pc games, mac games, amiga games, st games and a little display of 8 bit stuff that soon disappeared - then the st stuff - and the amiga stuff - and eventually the mac stuff

last few years, the pc walls shrank and shrank and nintendo, xbox, playstation, etc, etc took over - then they changed the name to gamespot - then the pc games disappeared! - and now, at least in battle creek and kalamazoo, they're gone from the malls

walden books and b dalton's gone

record world, tape world, camelot, suncoast video, merry go round, all gone, replaced by fye's, if anything

spencer's remains as sophomoric and cheesy as ever - i swear to god some of those posters have been in the racks for 25 years

bob marley shows up a lot - how would he feel that he's now one of the patron saints of babylon shopping centre?

bare midriffs - people don't dress like that anymore in the mall - i'm not sure they ever did in sw michigan - well, certainly not in the winter!

i've said it before about 70s, 80s and 90s mall pictures, that not that much has changed compared to what things were like in the 50s and 60s - maybe the photographer had a thing for girls with poodle haircuts, but, yes, that was an odd thing back then

also, there's a lot more junk in the malls now then there was then, which is saying something

i still go to malls all the time - i have a teenaged daughter, i have to
posted by pyramid termite at 5:38 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


This photo confirms it's 1989.
posted by davebush at 5:39 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


My mall period was a decade earlier, but the memories! Empty parking lot in the early morning, vast blacktop desert, weeds spouting from every crack! Endless hours at the arcade, Pac-Man and Space Invaders and Centipede, arguing who was the better bassist, John Entwistle or John Paul Jones! Black light posters at Spencer Gifts -- Sabbath, Skynyrd, Yes! Hanging out at the fountain, waiting for the girl you're crushing on to come by so you can pretend you don't see her! The drink and the nacho cheese sauce at Orange Julius -- exactly the same color! Sam Goody, in line behind ten people buying exactly the same album: Frampton Comes Alive! Sneaking into the multiplex to see the Kentucky Fried Movie/Groove Tube double feature! Mass, synchronized Animal House popcorn toss, precisely when Belushi says, "Food fight!" /late-Boomer teenage wasteland nostalgia rant
posted by Lyme Drop at 5:39 PM on December 3, 2014 [19 favorites]


As I was scrolling through these I kept telling myself that I'd seen them before somewhere. And then it was like, "Oh, right. Lived it."
posted by mudpuppie at 5:40 PM on December 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oy! These pictures raise a feeling that is a mishmash of sweet nostalgia and bile--my first job was at the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia Pennsylvania in the Y.E.S. (stood for young east sider!!) section of Bloomingdales where I sold Guess Jeans after school and on the weekends in the mid-eighties. Thank god that hair is dead and gone.
posted by eggkeeper at 5:40 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


davebush: This photo confirms it's 1989.”

Well, and this one.
posted by koeselitz at 5:44 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, and this one.

this was about a year before tapes disappeared totally from music stores - and the funny thing is, you walk into fye's right now and you'll find more vinyl than you would have in 1989
posted by pyramid termite at 5:47 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Working in one has given me permanent mallaise, and there is one here I frequently have to visit. It's all about the no-time-wasted most efficient path through what I need to get. Dallying gives me this dull, slowly crushing headache. I think this is why food courts were originally created: for whatever reason, you are stuck here, console yourself in a giant pretzel.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:49 PM on December 3, 2014


The Wherehouse, Tower Records, Licorice Pizza. A place to buy records and tapes. CD's were just coming of age.

A lot of these look like Del Amo in Torrance...the original "World's Largest Mall." It's still there, but different.

Memories.
posted by Chuffy at 5:49 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm reminded of this little slice of heaven that I posted here earlier. It screams 80's, even though it's apparently 1994.
posted by davebush at 5:49 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, eggkeeper, I was just gonna comment on the K of P Mall.

We moved from a tiny river town on the PA/Ohio border to just outside Philadelphia in 1965. I slept most of the way there and awoke in the parking lot of the King of Prussia Mall, which to my young eyes looked like the Emerald City. Korvette's was huge!

That mall became the first place I experienced any kind of real independence. My mother had no problem with allowing my nine-year-old self to explore the mall alone, and so I did--spending an inordinate amount of time in Spencer's Gifts, which then had a section for serious magicians and was nothing like the schlock-mart it was to become.

You could have a grape milkshake at The Purple Cow, browse beautiful Scandinavian modern furniture in The Happy Viking, pick up some hot rolls at the Sticky Bun Shop and maybe a sandwich at Horn & Hardardt.

Richard Nixon once had a rally right behind Gimbel's store. Strawbridge & Clothier had a fabulous restaurant on their top floor. There were spectacular indoor fountains with huge copper sculptures that slowly turned verdigris green, and sculptures in the courtyards that were perfect for climbing and sitting.

We moved north in 1970, to a place without big malls; when ones were finally built they were of the variety shown in the photoset. It's hard to remember how amazing King of Prussia seemed in the 60s.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:53 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


There are parts of Cleveland that still look like that.

Love this place.
posted by jpe at 5:59 PM on December 3, 2014


when I was a kid, my vision of Heaven was a large shopping mall that went on forever, with lots of pizzerias.
posted by bitteroldman at 5:59 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Big hair stuck around in Pittsburgh until at least the millenium and I still see an occasional sighting.
posted by octothorpe at 6:03 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think this is why food courts were originally created: for whatever reason, you are stuck here, console yourself in a giant pretzel.

As a teen, we also knew that between the awful Chinese place handing out knobs of glistening gristle on toothpicks, the little-toe-nubs of Auntie Anne's in a dish by the cashier, and the teeny shots of Orange Julius, you could subsist for hours on a wee cornucopia of free samples. And of course, when Marcella started working at Mrs. Fields, it seriously upped our game, as we could have any broken Trash Cookies that were deemed inedible for mortal lads.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:03 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


zardoz: Hairspray. Huge, industrial-sized cans of hairspray.

I think about all of those 24-inch tall cans of hairspray that were used up in the 80s, and the appearance of that hole in the ozone layer is no surprise at all.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:04 PM on December 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


About ten years ago I went to the mall in port alberni on a road trip and you could still get a malt!!! I was ecstatic and think sometimes about going there jusf to see if it is *still* possible. Orange Julius is going strong in my hometown mall...but if I could get a malt...
posted by chapps at 6:04 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


when I was a kid, my vision of Heaven was a large shopping mall that went on forever, with lots of pizzerias.

or a retail strip that went on forever and ever, like, say, gratiot ave through detroit and east detroit in 1964 - we were visiting friends of my father's - it just seemed so surreal to have all these businesses for miles upon miles ...

not as surreal as fort st in the early 80s - miles and miles of plywood ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:05 PM on December 3, 2014


I'm quite certain this is a double, because I know I've pointed out before that the kid on the left in this picture is me.

(it is, although I suppose that link is dead now)
posted by uncleozzy at 6:11 PM on December 3, 2014 [26 favorites]


Looks like The Present Peddler was quite the not-quite-goth (probably Depeche Mode fans) hangout. Google seems to suggest its sole location, which has since moved down the street to a strip mall, was in Washington Square Mall, Beaverton, Oregon. Looks like they specialized in tchotchkes, knick-knacks, and grandma crap.

No telling which mall the King of the Goths gets his Orange Julius, though.

this was about a year before tapes disappeared totally from music stores

You're off by a decade. Did you mean records?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:12 PM on December 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


Looking at these, I kept imagining somebody shrieking with laughter about the hair and the fashions, just being really obnoxious about how hilarious everything was in 1989. (Perhaps I've wasted too much of 2014 on Buzzfeed.)

It is certainly a shock, to take this stroll through the America of 1989 and realize just how different everything and everybody looked. But it's also kind of shocking to me how so much of the difference was just haircuts. Give these people 2014 hair, and a lot of them would look just like the folks you pass by every day.

It was a different era, in so many ways. But it wasn't a different planet. These people aren't "hilarious." They are your friends and your family and you, even if you weren't born yet. Just a bunch of lonely chumps on a Sunday afternoon, hanging out at the food court.

(Well, assuming you're an American. These people are all very much Americans.)

I will always like malls. When I was a kid, the mall was a place where I could be reasonably sure nobody was going to beat me up. As I grew up, it was place to hang out with friends, meet girlfriends, get lunch with my mom. Looking at these pictures is almost like looking through an old family album, seeing how young and fresh and silly everybody looked, and knowing you'll never those faces that way again.

In some ways, we're better off without malls. In some ways, the world will be better off without America.

(Having a weird, melancholy day, the kind of day when candid shots from 1989 hit you like a slug in the gut.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:19 PM on December 3, 2014 [12 favorites]


Dead people - even the ones who are still alive are no longer the people they were in those pictures - buying things they've long forgotten about from stores that no longer exist. Banal ghosts with mullets drinking extra large sodas. This is what heaven looks like.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:20 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, tapes persisted for much longer. I remember buying cassettes for the deck in my car as late as 1999.
posted by gnutron at 6:21 PM on December 3, 2014


The best part of malls in the 80s is that they sometimes had arcades, and you might see a game you had never seen before. Our local Aladdin's Castle is where I temporarily became the King of Dragon's Lair to a small crowd who watched me win the game.

Now I can log in and play just about any game ever created pretty much instantly. O brave new world.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:23 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Good to know that old people still remain looking old.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:27 PM on December 3, 2014


this was about a year before tapes disappeared totally from music stores

You're off by a decade. Did you mean records?


I don't know about a decade but I have some tapes that I bought as late as the mid-90s.

Not all malls are dying. There's one near me that they're still making bigger and enlarging the attached parking structure. It's going strong but I have noticed that the quality of stores (or the goods offered in them) has slowly declined and they seem to be marketing mainly for the Millennials.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:28 PM on December 3, 2014


Yeah, tapes persisted for much longer. I remember buying cassettes for the deck in my car as late as 1999.

I got 99 problems, but rewinding ain't one.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:32 PM on December 3, 2014


Yeah, Orange Julius is still very popular here. Expensive, but popular.

Just after getting my teaching degree and while waiting to get the hell out of Canada, I got a job doing commercial renovations. We torn down a store in the mall, and rebuilt it into a high-end clothing shop. That was pretty interesting work, as I did it after the mall closed, and learned how to navigate the back passageways. Mayfair Mall in Victoria, if anyone is interested.
posted by Nevin at 6:35 PM on December 3, 2014


Everyone's saying "hairspray" but (having been there, done that) it was mostly really mousse. We can't forget about allll the mousse!
posted by Miko at 6:38 PM on December 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


I grew up in Schaumburg, and a lot of that time was spent at Woodfield Mall, which is in several pictures. My first job was working in that mall in 1990, so this is basically my teenage years.

When I tell people I am from Schaumburg, the tech savvy say Motorola, most everyone else knows it as the place with the mall. And apparently now the outlet stores. I moved away in the early 90's, so these pictures pretty much reinforce what memories I have of the place.
posted by Badgermann at 6:39 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


They knocked down our glum, swiftly emptying local mall in Laurel, Maryland, and the only thing I missed was Orange Julius.

Obligatory substitute!

6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk, lowfat okay
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together except ice cubes together until sugar is dissolved. Then add ice cubes, one by one, until mostly blended.

Be sure to drink while dressed like Robert Smith, and wandering aimlessly around your living room.
posted by happyroach at 6:40 PM on December 3, 2014 [62 favorites]


I've seen these a number of times, but I always click through and try to savor...something...about them. Something about all the walking in such a compressed and structured (and yet to overwhelmingly frivolous ends) environment... people's little vanities and aspirations for themselves seem so exposed by the whole thing. It's very poignant. 20 years hence, we'll be looking at old browsing histories or something...

eschatfische,

Thanks for the clip of True Stories. I've been meaning to watch that again for years!
posted by batfish at 6:41 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


It is strange to see pictures of people sitting down at the mall doing things other than looking at their cell phones.
posted by chillmost at 6:44 PM on December 3, 2014 [25 favorites]


Yeah, where I live the mall is still pretty much thriving. I don't get the sense that the kids go to the mall to hang out the way kids did in the '80s, but it's definitely where a lot of people do most of their shopping.
We can't forget about allll the mousse!
There was such a baffling array of styling products. There was hairspray and mouse and gel, which made your hair crispy but supposedly in a good way. There were hot rollers and curling irons and curling rods for spiral curls. Also, there was so much eyeshadow. My mom got me a subscription to Teen magazine, which told me that I should match my eyeshadow to my outfit. I believe what they said was that I should match my socks to my shirt to my eyeshadow. There was just no way. The '80s were too confusing for me.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:46 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I miss arcades. My bff and I were among the very few girls who went who weren't there as spectators to a boy. We kicked ass at Tekken and Street Fighter. Sweet Jesus, I think I remember being excited when the "II" of each of those came out.

And smoking in malls... There were these elaborate, recessed, almost Victorian areas with palm trees and benches. But only kids smoking hung out there. I miss it tho. It was amazing for a public space.
posted by sio42 at 6:46 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


unless this is internet k-hole, you're stealin' my bit!
posted by boo_radley at 6:49 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Some of these look like Smithhaven Mall on Long Island which is still going strong.
posted by bleep at 6:55 PM on December 3, 2014


The business dudes with the binder. I had scrolled past and then had to go back. Calculator. Not smart phone.

I had been thinking there were no pics of people gazing into tiny glowing things in their hands, thus scrolling by calculator guy.
posted by sio42 at 7:00 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


My god, it's full of .... wrist watches.
posted by pwnguin at 7:06 PM on December 3, 2014


missed was Orange Julius.

Obligatory substitute!

6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk, lowfat okay
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ice cubes


Wait, what? You guys are all nostalgic for a drink that is a combination of orange juice and milk?

Americans are weird.
posted by lollusc at 7:10 PM on December 3, 2014 [9 favorites]


(But in probably still going to try it just in case)
posted by lollusc at 7:10 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


It is the proto-smoothie
posted by Area Man at 7:12 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


>It says 1989 but it looks earlier in the decade to me, especially the guy in the crop shirt and some of the hair. Regional differences must play into it as well.

Let's party like it's 1985

or 1991 in the midwest

posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:12 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also it had never occurred to me until just now how much an Orange Julius is almost exactly like a morir soñado.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:17 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was a mall rat from the day I got my car until the day I entered college, and then it was just over.

Most kids I grew up with - good farmer types - didn't hang out at the mall. Instead, it was for the kids who were a little geeky, a little freaky, and possibly a little bad but not really dangerous-bad like the kids in the city.

It's what we had, even though I knew then that it was kind of empty, that 'real life' would never happen in a mall and that true adventure lay in the outside world.

I hated them in college, but later they just made me kind of sad. I'm another one who looks at these photos with mixed emotions. It's a lost world, but not a world I really liked or am nostalgic for.
posted by kanewai at 7:17 PM on December 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


I also thought I recognized myself, but it couldn't have been, not in 1989. I wouldn't have been caught dead in a mall by 1989.
posted by kanewai at 7:18 PM on December 3, 2014


The photos also remind me of why Sassy was such an amazing magazine when it appeared.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:18 PM on December 3, 2014 [9 favorites]


Jesus. The only reason I'm 100% convinced this isn't me is that I would've been wearing horribly huge glasses by 1989. Still, I did a triple-take and it made me think really hard.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:20 PM on December 3, 2014


You can almost smell the Polo and Giorgio. Well, that and the smell of perms coming out from the JC Penny salon.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:22 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Big hair stuck around in Pittsburgh until at least the millenium and I still see an occasional sighting.


Mainly replaced by the Kate Gosselin reverse mullet.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:25 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is the proto-smoothie

It sure looks like diabeetus, but I'm pretty sure I would still love them. I might have to whip one up.
posted by MillMan at 7:28 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you live in an area with Dairy Queen they sell Orange Julius there.

As for the pix, the things that jumped out at me were the smoking, the watches, and that none of the women had exposed skin between jeans and shirt.

I think the death of the mall depends on area, there are several still chugging away with no end in sight, still packed full of my student body (that is, middle schoolers). Strip malls have become dominant, but enclosed mails are far from dead in many places.
posted by sotonohito at 7:41 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was born in 1980 on Staten Island, and I still remember exactly where in the S.I. Mall the Time Out arcade was.. as we grew older, the mall became one of the places you were allowed to be dropped off at for a couple hours with friends where, besides the neighborhood park or places near my house, we could be completely on our own in an otherwise "adult" environment. And also where boys and girls could hone their budding klepto skills.
posted by ReeMonster at 7:41 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure the original orange julius had egg in it.

At the mall in Grand Rapids there is an orange julius / dairy queen combo, but all they have is "Orange Cream" drink, which is absolutely disgusting when you're expecting an orange julius.
posted by rebent at 7:42 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Didn't Orange Julii have raw eggs in them at one point? I stopped getting them once I heard that those blenders they used were like little bacteria factories.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:44 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the smoking laws are different, the hairstyles are different, and there are some quaint memories revived by these photos, but I think the bigger much more concerning thing to take away from these photos is that this was the era of MASSIVE corporatization (and neoliberalism) in the United States. As a child, before much of these malls opened, I got haircuts at mom and pop stylists and barbers. Once the 80s ended, most haircuts happen at a corporate conglomerate (no doubt owned by Romney or someone similarly filthy). Extrapolate that same process over any and every company you can imagine, and you can see how we got where we are today. These photos are fun nostalgia for people my age, but they are a sickening reminder of just what the hell happened to our country. (and much it not for the better). Heck, even in Ferguson last week, people were complaining on the news that these rioters had "taken away people's personal businesses". That's funny. About 75% of the businesses I saw on TV being torched were corporate-owned businesses. Yeah, Mama's BBQ got torched too and that's complete bullshit. But who do you think really got hurt there? Walgreens? QT? Autozone? No, Mama did.
posted by readyfreddy at 7:45 PM on December 3, 2014 [12 favorites]


Malls are safe spaces for women - and women-dominated spaces. YMMV but I've never experienced, nor seen, harassment in a mall (that's anecdotal, of course! so... grain of salt), and I think that's part of the reason I liked hanging around in them.

You know, it's funny. Harassment is the thing I primarily associate malls with.

I wasn't an attractive young man. If you looked at a picture, you might go "oh, that's not so bad", but I was "husky" and wore glasses and dressed seriously, as if there were a school dress code in effect all the time. No mullet, no t-shirt. I just looked like a nice chubby Jewish boy, but this was in a mid-sized town where there were perhaps three or four nice Jewish boys out of thousands and thousands of teens.

Walking through the mall, there was a continuous stream of uninvited laughing and whispered derision behind me at all times, as though I had toilet paper on my shoe or my fly was unzipped. Still, the boys never, ever confronted me directly. The torrent of insults never stopped, but I was never beaten up. Being big and serious, and always aware of my surroundings but having learned to never make eye contact with anyone, I was doubtlessly a risky target despite my uncool look.

The girls, however, were another story. Every time I went to the mall, the same scenario would play out. I would be walking by, or window shopping, minding my own business, and a girl would come up to me and say "Hey. Hey! My friend over there - she likes you!" This girl, a different one every time, would turn and point to a girl in a group of girls (again, different every time) who would cringe, mortified. There are three options when this occurred:

* Stop and say something to the effect of "Oh yeah?" This would result in a humiliating retort indicating that the girl, in fact, did not like me.
* Ignore and keep walking. This would result in the girl following me, trying to get my attention, repeatedly imploring me that her friend did, in fact, "like me".
* Turn to the girl and say "Give me a break. Cut it out." Regardless of how polite the response was, this would result in mockery or a stream of obscenity or direct insults.

It was a losing game. And this isn't something that happened once or twice, but virtually every time I went to the mall, which became less and less frequent. To this day, as a serious looking, chubby middle-aged guy who doesn't attract any attention from anyone whatsoever, I still dislike going into malls, or large crowds, because there's still a part of my brain, a very strong, persuasive part, that tells me that I'm just setting myself up for continual and unavoidable mockery by going out in public. Especially, in malls, by girls. This is something that eats at you.

Sometimes I boggle that many guys don't get the harassment that many women endure on the street or on the net. Of course it happens, and of course it's awful. But I have to remind myself that I know this because I've experienced so much random harassment, whereas I guess those dudes haven't. But what's worse is that I know that kind of empty harassment, the desire to peg anyone slightly different an outsider, to chip away at someone's ego unprovoked, seems to just be innate in the human spirit.

Now, sure, there was occasionally harassment in school or camp or on the bus or in the park, like most kids experience - but the mall was the one place that reliably, continually brought out the worst in everyone around me. Like everyone else, I look at these pictures nostalgically - but not without more than a little pain.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 7:50 PM on December 3, 2014 [29 favorites]


Everyone's so skinny.

You know, now that you mention it... I think that thought was bubbling in the back of my head as I looked at these, but it never quite coalesced. You're right. Makes me wonder if there is something to that HFCS stuff. I mean, these people probably were eating lots of junk food, just like folks do today, but somehow they weren't fat. if you went to random malls and took the same kind of candid shots today, you would see lots and lots of heavy people. But if you wanted to be fat back then, you kind of had to work for it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:50 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


bleep: Some of these look like Smithhaven Mall on Long Island which is still going strong.

Exactly what I thought when I saw this picture of a kid in a Kings Park jacket (could it be Walt Whitman?).

No self-respecting 80's mall would be complete without a Chess King.
posted by dr_dank at 8:04 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


My mom got me a subscription to Teen magazine, which told me that I should match my eyeshadow to my outfit. I believe what they said was that I should match my socks to my shirt to my eyeshadow. There was just no way. The '80s were too confusing for me.

posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious


Eponysterical.
posted by Andrhia at 8:07 PM on December 3, 2014


When I was really small (so late 80s) my family used to go to the mall on a Friday night and all split a big soft pretzel and an Orange Julius and walk around. I spent a long time thinking that was really weird.

But now I have a toddler and sure enough, we find ourselves hanging out at the mall a lot. Ultimately, at the mall you are protected from any weather that might be occurring (important in the pacific northwest), you're not in danger of being hit by a car, there's a lot of space to walk, and it doesn't cost anything to get in. We don't have a whole lot of other places like that.

So yeah, see you all at the Lego store on Saturday.
posted by town of cats at 8:12 PM on December 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Everyone's so skinny.

Definitely not everyone, there are a range of sizes in the photos though maybe less than what you would see at a mall today.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:13 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


candid shots from 1989 hit you like a slug in the gut

Yeah, me too. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe because it was almost a pesudo-public space, as pathetic as that is. And I always expected "life at the mall" to be better than it was, probably because of television and movies.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:15 PM on December 3, 2014


So pretty much around this time (1989-1995 or so) I worked in the mall. Not in some store--but the actual mall floor, armed with a clipboard and a stack of market research surveys. I actually asked all those people pictured if they wanted to take a few minutes to answer a few questions about their use of deodorant or body lotion. I'd offer them a chance to taste test ice cream or blue cheese or even tequila. One study I worked on actually gave people a case of beer to take home for a week. Most of the others gave cash and back then two or three dollars for 15 minutes seemed like a good deal so it was easy to bring people in.

A couple of memories stand out. Riding a bicycle through empty halls late at night. Sitting and drinking leftover product in the office. Watching shoplifters being taken down and watching the local mall rats taunt security. Watching the shopping mall turn into a giant kid's playground on a rainy halloween night with waves of entitled kids demanding treats from merchants.

I quit my mall job in 1995. I went back regularly to get my hair cut in a traditional barber shop tucked away in the corner. When my divorce exploded the mall became a neutral site in which I could see my son under supervised visits. I finally switched barbers and haven't been inside that mall in the past three years.
posted by lester at 8:15 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Can I put in a fond word for Shoppers World in Framingham, Mass.? It was one of the first post-war malls, so it wasn't enclosed, and even by the 1980s, it was showing its age, but it had some unique features, like Joan and Ed's Jewish deli (with the "Fressers' Club" wall of photos of people who had managed to eat some ludicrously large sandwich), actual reindeer and two-story tall wooden soldiers at Christmas and a domed Jordan Marsh department store that looked like it had just landed from Alpha Centauri. No arcade, though - you had to play human Frogger getting across Rte. 9 to Fun 'N' Games.

Of course, they tore it down and replaced it with a giant parking lot surrounded by big boxes topped by those stupid green plastic pyramid things that became fashionable along Rte. 9, but which only managed to increase the way the new mall looked like a maximum-security prison.
posted by adamg at 8:20 PM on December 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


lollusc: “Wait, what? You guys are all nostalgic for a drink that is a combination of orange juice and milk? Americans are weird.”

Really, it is completely awesome, in a way that I don't think I would expect if it were formulated to me in that way. It's like orange ice cream that's somehow more orange-juice-y and has a bit of a crispness to it.
posted by koeselitz at 8:23 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I believe that the mall most reflecting the changes in our society over the past 40 years has to be the Williams Center Forum in Tulsa. A hot commodity in a city center that ruined the place in the end and then was turned into an enormous trading floor, all built with gobs of oil money and, later, the ill-gotten gains of deregulation.

A microcosm, really. Also next door to a pint size OG World Trade Center knockoff. I think that says something as well. Tulsa is such a weird place.
posted by wierdo at 8:28 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


How weird is it to look at photos like these and see how things were before mobile phones.

And how obvious is it in looking at these photos the impact that mobile phones have had on the way we interact in public, with people and in public spaces.
posted by chris88 at 8:29 PM on December 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


there's a lot of space to walk, and it doesn't cost anything to get in. We don't have a whole lot of other places like that.

Except, um, ya know, cities. Such was the hubris of these corporations. Like Monty Burns blocking out the sun, they figured that they could reconstruct Main Street first in a climate controlled megalopolis. And secondly, it would all be privately owned. Therefore lots of rules change. No protest allowed like on the public square. In fact, nothing happens in that closed space that the private owners don't want happening. No thanks.
posted by readyfreddy at 8:40 PM on December 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


lester: When my divorce exploded the mall...

Damn, that's acrimonious! Your fights blew up a MALL? Oh, wait… OK, yeah, sorry. I think I misunderstood that.


In Boston there is a T stop called Lechmere, which was named for the department store which anchored a nearby mall in the 1980s. The Lechmere retail chain itself disappeared like twenty years ago, and the mall was completely different when I passed through there a few weeks ago, but the name, inexplicably, remains -- mostly to confuse non-natives, I think.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:42 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Try to find David Hasselhoff! It's like a game of Where's Waldo.
posted by Yowser at 8:43 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


reddyfreddy: Like Monty Burns blocking out the sun, they figured that they could reconstruct Main Street first in a climate controlled megalopolis.

Actually, Minnesota has loved malls for decades because those idealized outdoor retail areas are goddamned cold for half the year. The Mall of America opens early for walkers now -- like 6:00AM, I think -- because if all those people had to get their pedometers working out of doors from November through March, they'd be in danger!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:44 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


this was about a year before tapes disappeared totally from music store

As others above have said: no. A year or so later I was toiling for the benefit of Sony, selling consumer electronics in a mall. In my stint of 1990/1991 I reckon we sold eight to to twelve Walkmans for every Discman. It was not purely a price point issue, either, as there was considerable overlap. Walkmans ran from about $79.99 (just cassette, no radio, no auto-reverse, nuthin') to maybe $325 for ultra-light Dolby-equipped professional recording ones. The low-end disc player was, I dunno, $175 to about $400 for the snazziest.

I am by no means an early adopter, but in 1989 I suspect that 80% of the music I owned was on cassette and most of the rest on vinyl. I had a handful of CDs (mostly received as gifts) but I did not even own a player for them until the early nineties.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:55 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I grew up on Long Island in the 70s. Used to ride my bike to Roosevelt Field Mall. Loved hanging at that place. It is off by a little more than a decade, but here is a link to a site that takes revisiting the mall one more step. It revisits the entire decade.
posted by 724A at 8:55 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Orange tile everywhere! I remember that so well from the tiny, tired little mall my family frequented in the '80s.
posted by wuwei at 9:03 PM on December 3, 2014


wenestvedt: Minnesota

I understand. And I don't necessarily think that everything about malls is bad. Clearly I've also benefitted from some of its better aspect. All the stores are in one place. You park once (for free!). You get to walk around in a climate controlled environment. And so on. But the problem I have with the whole proposition is that corporations seriously thought they could take over the public space of the city street/store and reconstitute it as a privately owned utopia. It's clear that's what they were trying to do. Why else on earth would they do things like plant fake trees? Or install countless, and pointless, fountains of all things? They were trying to mimic the once-public space. Yes, there were some benefits. But who made them the arbiter of what a public space is? I agree, I would rather spend a winter day inside a mall than hoofing it from door to door on a cold city street. But as the mall declines (and in some places dies completely), what is replacing it? New stores that are self-contained. In a sort of strip mall fashion of sorts (although a design that's modified from the past strip mall). But guess what… it's the same exact thing as the city street with stores all in a row. Literally nothing about them is different about the city shops of yesteryear, except maybe free parking. You still get all of the inconvenience of weather. And you get none of the benefits of it being a public space. It's still a private space just like the mall.
posted by readyfreddy at 9:12 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


split a big soft pretzel

Buy 2 and the third one is 1/2 price. Would you like a Coke with that?

Hot Sam's Management Represent! NaOH FTW!
posted by mikelieman at 9:37 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


About ten years ago I went to the mall in port alberni on a road trip and you could still get a malt!!!

This is a good opportunity to ask -- whatever happened to malts? Everywhere I've ever seen except a particular Dairy Queen sells chocolate shakes at best. I have had one malt in my life and it was from that store, but weren't they big in the 50s? Whatever happened to them?
posted by JHarris at 9:37 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wistfulness and a deep dissatisfaction.

My mall years were when I was 10-13 years old. A mall opened relatively near my home in the 70's and it was a good thing. I lived in a vast tract of suburbia and there were no bookstores. But the new mall had one. A place where they only sell books. To me, that was amazing. I spent a lot of time there. And it didn't take much time for me to realize that if they had this variety of books in this little store, imagine what they had at the public library. And the library is free. Hurray! So then began my refrain of "Will you drive me to the library?"

The record store. Another good thing the mall brought me. To my eyes, they had a huge selection and had genres of music of which I was completely ignorant. So if you had a little money and were willing to take a chance a whole new world could open up for you.

The dissatisfaction, of course, was from my first real exposure to consumerism on that scale. A visceral exposure. "You can't have fun at the mall unless you have money!" Wanting things you didn't know existed until you saw them at the mall. It began to feel like a perverse trap. A trap that changes your whole mindset. I hardly ever visit a mall these days, but when I do I still get that trapped feeling.
posted by cwest at 9:58 PM on December 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


A microcosm, really. Also next door to a pint size OG World Trade Center knockoff.

IIRC, that building was actually designed by the architect that designed the Twin Towers, based on the same design (just smaller, of course.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:09 PM on December 3, 2014


I came to the U.S. from Europe in August of 1988, and this collection of photos is like being thrown back in time to my first year here. I can vividly remember the first time I stepped foot in a mall - Perimeter Mall outside Atlanta. It was a revelation. I remember sitting with my mom in the food court, eating those sandwiches that were wraps cut in slices (can't for the life of me remember what the chain was called) and both of us just absolutely gawking with huge eyes at everything that was so large, so crowded, so the America that for us had before only existed in movies. Then we went to see "Coming to America" in the mall theater, and it seemed like the Mall had everything you could ever want all in one place.

I fell out of love with the mall rather quickly, so by 1990 or so I was no longer interested in going - except later to play games in the arcade with my boyfriend. But wow, I think back to the overwhelming experience of ALL those stores, all that wide variety of humanity on display, the mall walkers, the hairspray, the food, the whole place, and it's a pretty singular and weird thing. Still, I'm not sad that mall culture is going away in so many places - I much prefer smaller stores and shopping online if I need something. And yet it feels like losing a huge part of the zeitgeist of the United States that I fell in love with enough to stay.
posted by gemmy at 10:15 PM on December 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Last year I had to go to an indoor-for-real mall for the first time in years, and at first it felt all wrong because it had a Target in it, but then I went down one wing and there was a Payless Shoes and a food court where I had some absolutely acceptable cajun food (which is a thing that California just doesn't do hardly at all).

But man, a Target in a mall is weird. Shopping carts in a mall is wrong. I've already had to get used to cartscalators and cartelevators, but taking one out into the mall in order to get into the parking garage is a cart-bridge too far.

I've lived a mile from the Northridge Fashion Center for 8 months but I still haven't gone in. I know what it's going to look like in there already.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:17 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's clear that's what they were trying to do. Why else on earth would they do things like plant fake trees? Or install countless, and pointless, fountains of all things?

Probably for the same reason I have a pointless pond in my back yard. It makes the space more pleasant. Is that so nefarious?

They were trying to mimic the once-public space. Yes, there were some benefits. But who made them the arbiter of what a public space is?

If you insist that malls were trying to mimic once public space, then the answer is you, and everyone who ever headed to a mall for whatever purpose. But I'm not sure how true it is. And to the extent it is, I can't see much to tsk tsk about. I mean, really, is it such a bad thing that the big bad mall owners were so good at drawing people? In plenty of places around the country, the mall created a public/private gathering place that didn't exist before. And they proved a successful concept. I'm not sure why I'd mourn the once public space when in many cases, the once public space was never much to write home about to begin with.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:28 PM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Bellevue Square. 1982 - 1987 or so would have been when I would have gone there regularly. Often just to be around other people (and there was always someone cute to look at). On the "eastside", in the early to mid 1980s, there wasn't a whole ton more to do if you were under 21, really.

I haven't been there in 20 years, I suspect it's seriously changed. Bellevue Square was always "upscale" but with all the microsoft money running around I imagine that upscale means something different now.
posted by maxwelton at 10:39 PM on December 3, 2014


This is a good opportunity to ask -- whatever happened to malts? Everywhere I've ever seen except a particular Dairy Queen sells chocolate shakes at best. I have had one malt in my life and it was from that store, but weren't they big in the 50s? Whatever happened to them?

Malteds are still around! You can still get them at finer ice cream establishments. My wife had a coconut milk malted for dessert tonight at our local finer ice cream establishment.

Or you can buy the dry malt powder and make 'em yourself. You can malt almost ANYTHING.
posted by Spatch at 11:02 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Look, if you and I are ever in a place together and we come across this jacket, so help me just back off quietly because I will otherwise fight you to the death for it. A supercharged Camero on the beach under a full moon in airbrush? Shoooo!

What strikes me is how much the old people then dress exactly like my parents do now at the same age. Having lived through several facial hair epochs starting with the Grunge Goatee it strikes me as odd in this time of wild facial hair stylings to look back at a time when only Tough Guys and cops had mustaches.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:38 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


maxwelton: “Bellevue Square. 1982 - 1987 or so would have been when I would have gone there regularly. Often just to be around other people (and there was always someone cute to look at). On the ‘eastside", in the early to mid 1980s, there wasn't a whole ton more to do if you were under 21, really. I haven't been there in 20 years, I suspect it's seriously changed. Bellevue Square was always ‘upscale’ but with all the microsoft money running around I imagine that upscale means something different now.”

It hasn't changed as much as you'd think, I gather. See gc's comment in the "previously" I posted up above for some more recent pictures, including one of the Apple Store that's there now.
posted by koeselitz at 11:47 PM on December 3, 2014


Tape World. Way to future proof your brand. I'm sure they were like, "I can't believe those chumps over by the food court went for Record World"

My Uncle had the short lived "Gerry's Gramophone Galaxy"
posted by mattoxic at 11:57 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thanks for that tip Spatch! I googled a bit and found I *can* get a malt right here in Victoria St the Soda Shoppe! Must do Mefi malteds meet up!
posted by chapps at 12:12 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Actually, Minnesota has loved malls for decades because those idealized outdoor retail areas are goddamned cold for half the year.

So, the vast out-of-state corporation that owns the perpetually-on-life-support mall near me is busy converting it into one of those ... fake down-town, separate buildings connected by a village square, concept malls.

This is a place where it rains 8 months out of the year.
I'm sure it will end well.
posted by madajb at 12:22 AM on December 4, 2014


In plenty of places around the country, the mall created a public/private gathering place that didn't exist before.

Well, the mall years also coincided with Reagan-era urban policies that destroyed a lot of major cities. Detroit was dangerous, and the main streets in the smaller towns were full of closed shops with newspapers over the window. Hell, even relatively affluent Ann Arbor's downtown was dead except for some scattered (and great, and also lost) bars.

Before that we had more public spaces.
posted by kanewai at 2:37 AM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


You seem to think going to a city was an option. At that time I lived in the far suburbs of metro DC. Like I'm seriously going to pile my kids in the subway for 45 minutes and take them to Adams-Morgan for an "authentic" city experience, surrounded by snooty people who believe in things like an "authentic" city experience? No. I took them to the mall. A safe, clean, well-appointed public space with things to do and their friends around. The city wasn't an option. It was too far away. People live outside cities, you know. Lots of people. We didn't klll off the city. The city being massively inconvenient to most people killed off the city.
posted by umberto at 3:15 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Up and down!
posted by Meatbomb at 4:39 AM on December 4, 2014


the main streets in the smaller towns were full of closed shops with newspapers over the window

What's interesting about this is that, at least on Long Island, malls aren't closing, but they're becoming at least somewhat derelict, and the old main streets are making comebacks in fits and starts. I live in a 95-year-old house in a village that grew up around a train station at the turn of the 20th century. Our main street held on for a long while, but by the late 90s, it was mostly empty storefronts.

In the last five or so years, they've filled almost all the vacant stores (mostly with restaurants and bars, unfortunately; I think once there's more foot traffic we'll start to see more retail) and started construction on a few new mixed-use buildings. The story is the same in a lot of the old villages.

We still need to do a lot of big-box shopping--the only grocery store closed a few years ago and there's nowhere, really, to buy clothes--but it's encouraging to see a people actually using the street and the village green as public spaces on the weekends. If we can get enough of the right kinds of shops to attract weekday traffic, too, it should be a really nice place again in a few years.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:57 AM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Danbury Fair mall had a barbershop right down the corridor from a baseball hat shop. Not very encouraging.
posted by jonmc at 5:32 AM on December 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wait, what? You guys are all nostalgic for a drink that is a combination of orange juice and milk?

Even better: real Orange Julius had egg in it as well (in the form of some kind of pasteurized egg powder, I seem to recall - think meringue).
posted by aught at 5:49 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I recall an article by Gahan Wilson (yes, the cartoonist) suggesting the malls were how the human race was prepping itself for space colonies and generational starships.
posted by rochrobbb at 5:49 AM on December 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


I wonder where this is - it looks like the old Tampa Bay Center which I always liked, as it was smallish, well-lit, and full of trees.

Of course, it being smallish - and next to the football stadium - meant that it's now a parking lot and some sort of office for the Bucs. Sigh.
posted by cmyk at 6:33 AM on December 4, 2014


What I dug the most was seeing CD longboxes again.
posted by Legomancer at 6:35 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


For somebody who was pretty unhappy during many parts of his adolescence, my desire to GO TO THERE when looking at these pictures is surprisingly strong.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:40 AM on December 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


> Hairspray.

Obligatory. (Might have been playing in the mall!)
posted by languagehat at 6:53 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Waldenbooks at Haywood Mall in Greenville, SC is where I learned that hey, I know how to steal books! (Still bizarrely and horribly proud of stealing the original hardback edition of Clive Barker's Imajica when it came out. It was not easy.)
posted by Kitteh at 6:59 AM on December 4, 2014


Although I never tried it myself, I was told the secret to EPIC high bangs was to put your face against the wall and spray them while holding the bangs up smashed against it. Seems like it would be hell on your drywall/wallpaper though.

In my highschool, there was definitely a limit to how high was acceptable. Too high was a little trashy. A modest cresting wave at the front, often with a highlighted long bob-cut (as opposed to the long tangled mane) was what most popular girls had. A style that looks dowdy now because it quickly became Mom Hair. But then my school was also full of conservative Christian girls who thought nothing of wearing an actual long-skirted jumper dress with Keds. The goth/New Wave thing was considered very edgy and almost Satanic; only the "troubled" kids would dare do it. I went for a modified Pretty in Pink look myself for a while, but it wasn't really me.
posted by emjaybee at 7:24 AM on December 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


I grew up in Schaumburg, and a lot of that time was spent at Woodfield Mall, which is in several pictures. My first job was working in that mall in 1990, so this is basically my teenage years.

When I tell people I am from Schaumburg, the tech savvy say Motorola, most everyone else knows it as the place with the mall. And apparently now the outlet stores. I moved away in the early 90's, so these pictures pretty much reinforce what memories I have of the place.


My memories of both come from much later in the 90's. Change was coming, but it wasn't quite there yet. I suppose the big warning signs included the region's first IKEA and the conversion of some mall into The Streets of Woodfield.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:26 AM on December 4, 2014


In 1989 I was working in my first office job and one of my coworkers was nearing retirement and still wearing the same hairstyle she'd had as a teenager, backcombed to pouf up on the back of her head, hot-rolled into an exaggerated round curl at the shoulders, and shellacked in place with hairspray. She looked like a character from Bewitched, grown old.

In 1989, hairspray was for the olds. Young fashionable people used mousse. Lots and lots of mousse. I always secretly wished to be one of those cool new-wave kids at the mall, the ones who looked like they just stepped out of a Depeche Mode video. But I never put in the effort. It's an awful lot of work. I suppose my coworker did that work early in her life, and then just maintained the habit.

Habits are habit forming. I still have the same hairstyle I had in 1989. I don't have any mousse on my bathroom counter, so maybe I do not look as freakish as the women in these pictures, or as anachronistic as my old coworker. Life-long fashion laziness at least means you will never see an old picture of yourself with freakish hair. Which is actually kinda sad. Why didn't I get poodle hair in the 80s? It would have been fun!

I haven't seen a can of mousse since the 80s. I suppose there must still be some available. But in the 90s the fashion was to look like you went out in a windstorm and then slept on your hair funny. I'd have fit right in except that my hair was too long to display the proper cowlicks and flat spots. I look forward to seeing those photos someday and thinking about how weird it looked, but for now it's still too close.
posted by elizilla at 8:04 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ohhhh, I had the hair. Dear god, did I have the hair. Ditto the huge plastic earrings, bicycle shorts and "surfer" shirts.

If it's any comfort to those who are feeling those odd twinges of nostalgia and disgust (as I am), I think kids are doing the same thing today. The clothes and hair are a little different, but the idea--costuming for activities in public spaces--is still there.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 9:08 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


You could order an Orange Julius with a raw egg, but it was extra.

By 1989, I was living overseas, but if you happen to have caught me at a mall in 1986, I would have looked like this.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:19 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, the vast out-of-state corporation that owns the perpetually-on-life-support mall near me is busy converting it into one of those ... fake down-town, separate buildings connected by a village square, concept malls.

This is a place where it rains 8 months out of the year.
I'm sure it will end well.


Just before I left Halifax, which is even rainier than that, they put in one of those monstrosities. It's honestly the worst thing ever. It's just like a mall--except you have to walk five times as far, through wind and rain and parking lot after parking lot, to get anywhere. Who benefits from this? No one but the owners, who don't have a whole mall to build and heat and cool and maintain. Even the stores don't get anything out of it; it's so inconvenient to go from one store to another that there's no casual browsing like they'd get in an indoor mall. People only take the time to drive all the way out there in the first place if they're looking for something specific. Here's the kicker: You have to drive past the mall to get there. Ridiculous.

Thing is, it's really just a series of strip malls, but strip malls are low class, so they fancy up the façade a bit, put it out far enough that you need to be in a car-driving income bracket to shop there, and presto, now instead of a two-bit florist or hair salon they're renting to a Banana Republic and an Aldo.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:22 AM on December 4, 2014


Wait, what? You guys are all nostalgic for a drink that is a combination of orange juice and milk?

Americans are weird.


I really really want a pinata colada from orange julius right now. And a pizza dog.
posted by missmerrymack at 9:58 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


And even though I never was good at big hair I'm also feeling nostalgic for Stiff Stuff hairspray and the giant end caps of Aqua Net we constantly had to stock at my after school job at Walgreen's. They made mousse too!
posted by missmerrymack at 10:10 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Room 641-A: "Surely Ridgemont Mall is the defining mall of the 80s?"

Exterior was Santa Monica Place, interior was filmed in Sherman Oaks Galleria.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:35 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mojo Nixon said it best, as usual.
posted by item at 10:45 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't help but see parallels between the mall usurping the square (it's full of PLU) and Loup & Uber's rise.
posted by Monochrome at 10:45 AM on December 4, 2014


Wow. I worked in two malls when I was a younger man. Hung out in them when I was even younger. Met my wife in one. She worked in the store next to mine. I'm a child of the 80's through and through. These are great memories.
posted by damnitkage at 10:52 AM on December 4, 2014


readyfreddy: ". Such was the hubris of these corporations. Like Monty Burns blocking out the sun, they figured that they could reconstruct Main Street first in a climate controlled megalopolis."

Once upon a time... is now at Cinderella City!
posted by boo_radley at 10:58 AM on December 4, 2014


Whatever that record store was in the very first photo, with the Madonna display in front-and-off-center close-up, really brought the immediacy of the time-machine effect home to me more than anything else. The carefully curated towers of LPs (LPs!) organized chronologically from Who's That Girl to You Can Dance (!) and then the plethora of Like a Prayer CDs and LPs, which so screams spring 1989 (though it could have just as easily been around Halloween -- imagine any album these days lasting that long on any shelf and still generating hit singles -- given the costuming of the woman in the photo); behind that, further neatly organized displays of many more CD longboxes; and the rows and rows upon rows of cassette tapes, a whole damn infinite wall of them. Amazing.
posted by blucevalo at 12:18 PM on December 4, 2014


busy converting it into one of those ... fake down-town, separate buildings connected by a village square, concept malls.

It's honestly the worst thing ever. It's just like a mall--except you have to walk five times as far, through wind and rain and parking lot after parking lot, to get anywhere. Who benefits from this? No one but the owners, who don't have a whole mall to build and heat and cool and maintain. Even the stores don't get anything out of it; it's so inconvenient to go from one store to another that there's no casual browsing like they'd get in an indoor mall.

Dunno how well any of these really fit, to be sure, but the general concept of the open-air mall is the only one that's seeing growth right now, and the general idea is to transplant the principles of New Urbanism to the mall environment. At the far end you're actually designing mixed uses into the retail, including offices and apartments/condos, so what you're actually doing is recreating a traditional Main Street environment. (In any case, planners today are loathe to endorse the Le Corbusierian concept of separated usages that drove much of late 20th-century planning.) A number of failed malls are finding redevelopment as mixed-use centers, and some of them even have transit running right into the center of the mall instead of dropping you off unceremoniously a long ways off. (Some malls today don't want buses coming anywhere near the front doors, because the lower-class customers scare off the upper-class ones.) I can see arguments against the open-air mall, and in many ways it's just trying to revive a form that is ultimately a creation of car culture and dying out, but in the long run I think you're going to continue to see more of this approach.
posted by dhartung at 12:28 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Exterior was Santa Monica Place, interior was filmed in Sherman Oaks Galleria.

As an aspiring architect growing up in WLA, when Santa Monica Place* was built it was so exciting! I was actually trying to find a few good links to include here but the mall's recent redesign is overwhelming my attempts at googling it. The chain-link facade looks a bit dated now but I'm glad it was left intact. After seeing this before and after it's funny to think how controversial the project was at the time.

It's all a little fuzzy now, but I think that by the time SM Place came along, local kids and college students had already adopted Westwood Village (the shopping/entertainment area around UCLA) as the de facto "mall" for the area; I remember shopping at SM Place and hanging out there, but never really "hanging out" there. There are other malls in the area like Fox Hills Mall, Century City, and the Beverly Center, but I feel like everyone in the 80s was hanging out in Westwood, at least on the weekends.

Hmm, on preview, Westwood was really an organic version of the "fake down-town, separate buildings connected by a village square, concept malls." I never really thought about it that way before.

*Designed by a young Frank Gehry, for those who didn't click Chrysostom's link.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:37 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mojo Nixon said it best, as usual yt .

Heh. Of course all my Mojo Nixon tapes were acquired at Camelot Music in the mall (though he indeed didn't work there). I love Mojo, but he made amazingly wrong predictions about which cultural totems would endure and how so. If Mojo makes use of some piece of then current cultural iconography in a song, you can almost guarantee it's either not around anymore or has totally lost the desired resonance. Course I will always be able to listen to him bellow about Michael J. Fox and Nutty Buddies...
posted by batfish at 1:03 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Near my house in Ottawa is the Billings Bridge mall, which is small and quite old. The thing is always packed -- it is on a transit hub, attached to an office tower, near a large athletics center, there are lots of near-by apartment towers and retirement homes, and is right next to a dense old urban area.

The new official City of Ottawa plan is to encourage the owner to replace the mall with one of those outdoor fake-downtown things. I don't get it. Basically a knee-jerk "malls are bad" attitude towards planning, even though this one obviously is important to the local community. If you cross a bridge you can get to a traditional downtown street, which is great, but there is definitely a good reason -- winter -- why people like enclosed shopping spaces in Ottawa.

Give me a real mall before a big box store development any day. At least people are walking around in a mall, not driving store-to-store.

--K
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:24 PM on December 4, 2014


I was, to an embarrassing degree, a mall rat in this era (maybe slightly later). It was a place where you could wander around and meet up with friends, smoke cigarettes, get a snack, go to the arcade (arcades!), buy (or shoplift) some new music or D&D books, play hacky sack (until the security guards Nazi pigs made you stop), maybe sneak out to the nearby railroad tracks to smoke a nickel bag out of a Sprite can. What else was there for a young teenage delinquent to do in small-town America?

I abhor malls now. Such majestic glittering halls, bursting with an unimaginable bounty of absolutely nothing that I want to buy.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:49 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've always found malls to be depressing places. I might have felt differently if I'd spent my adolescence in a suburb or city where access to the mall was easier or most teens had cars, but I spent mine in Chicago, and we generally just didn't do malls. The closest one to where I lived was in Lincolnwood, and it wasn't much of a much, although the people in the newsstand were sufficiently inattentive so that I could get away with reading Penthouse Forum, whoop whoop. When I went to college, the campustown was pretty desolate--I think they'd gotten by for a while on the bar crowd, but hadn't yet adapted to Illinois raising the drinking age to 21--and I had to go out to the mall to get clothes and other things, such as bagels with lox. It wasn't the worst mall in America, but I didn't go to college to hang out with teenagers. Later, I had a job for a while helping to clean one of the mall's anchor stores, a Target, and the best I can say about that is that it was at night.

I won't say that online shopping is a 100% improvement over the mall, since it is convenient to have a place to try on clothes and do other shopping; on the other hand, that's what downtowns and campustowns used to be for, instead of just lawyers' offices and places to get drunk, and that's what New Urbanism is trying to restore. As nice as the elderly find them to walk in when it's cold, I won't shed many tears for places that scooped the financial heart out of a lot of towns and neighborhoods and encouraged people to think of shopping as something separate from where they lived and worked, and thus planted the seeds of the malls' and big-box stores' own destruction.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:55 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also: yes, tapes well into the nineties. I initially thought of CDs as a format that was simply more convenient for borrowing from friends or the library to do home taping from.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:57 PM on December 4, 2014


Coincidentally, The Awl just posted a great photo/essay called The Twilight of the Indoor Mall recounting how a place that used to be teeming with people can slowly die off and empty out, slowly turning into nothing.
posted by psoas at 3:32 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


batfish: "If Mojo makes use of some piece of then current cultural iconography in a song, you can almost guarantee it's either not around anymore or has totally lost the desired resonance."

There's a joke here about Debbie Gibson is Pregnant With My Two-Head Love Child.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:25 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I recall an article by Gahan Wilson (yes, the cartoonist) suggesting the malls were how the human race was prepping itself for space colonies and generational starships.

The hell you say. In the July 1976 National Geographic celebrating the USA bicentennial, there was a copiously-illustrated article by Isaac Asimov predicting that by the country's 250th anniversary there would be permanent colonies in orbit (12 years left to get it done, guys). Here is one of the images that went with the piece in 1976; here is the Toronto Eaton Centre, a million-square-foot mall that opened in downtown Toronto in 1977.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:21 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here is one of the images that went with the piece in 1976;

Jump suits and mini-skirts, must be the future.
posted by octothorpe at 6:29 AM on December 5, 2014


Malls were the wave of the future in the mid-seventies, apparently. Logan's Run (1976) was shot at a mall, and they barely even tried to disguise it.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:15 AM on December 5, 2014


Yeah, arcologies were going to be a thing or something.
posted by mikelieman at 7:42 AM on December 5, 2014


In the early 80s I had friends that used to go out and work on Arcosanti a few times a year. I've thought about making it (or the whole topic) an FPP but it really deserves more work than I'm interested in putting into it.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:09 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jump suits and mini-skirts, must be the future.

The thing that stands out the most to me (having probably spent in toto a few hundred hours of my life in the Eaton Centre, including a stint working there) is the guy on the bike. Toronto is a decent city for cyclists, but I have never spotted anyone cycling inside the mall.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:39 AM on December 5, 2014


Why is there not more smoking!

Why isn't rat-tail guy not buying a butterfly knife?

Why isn't this available on betamax!
posted by mikoroshi at 7:32 PM on December 5, 2014


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